Hon. Mark DeSaulnier
Chair, Senate Transportation & Housing Committee
State Capitol, Room
Fax: (916) 445-2209
Re: SB 910 (Lowenthal) –
The Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association (HBBCA) respectfully requests the committee’s support for SB 910 (Lowenthal) scheduled to heard on May 3, 2011. The HBBCA’s goal is “to improve and encourage bicycle commuting.” To achieve this goal, provisions to support safe and efficient cycling are critical. SB 910 would be a major step.
Cyclists too often face dangerous conditions on California’s streets due to motorists passing too closely.
When this happens, the slightest error by the motorist or the most minor shift by the bicyclist to avoid trash, broken glass or rough pavement can lead to a collision. Any time a cyclist is struck by a motorist, disastrous results can occur.
By requiring motorists to give bicyclists more space when passing, we can minimize a leading cause of deadly collisions and help more people feel comfortable about choosing to ride their bikes.
SB 910 will require motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing from behind. The bill modifies existing state law that requires a motorist to maintain an unspecified “safe” distance when passing another motorist or a bicyclist.
Sixteen other states have already enacted a specified minimum passing distance for motorists. Oklahoma is currently debating stiffer penalties for the 3-foot passing law it enacted in 2006.
A specified passing distance provides a more objective and easily understood measure of what constitutes “safe” and gives law enforcement and the courts a more objective basis for enforcing California’s safe passing requirement. Most importantly, it helps emphasize a motorist’s special responsibility to safeguard more vulnerable road users like bicyclists.
Rick Knapp, President
Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association
To 3-Foot-Passing Bill website,
I hope that this article is of some use to you. I've copied the most relevant part at the bottom. The referenced studies are somewhat old, however.
If the link does not work, feel free to copy and paste it in your browser.
I will be sending that letter out to Senate Transportation shortly. Good luck and let me know if there is anything else I can do.
As we have seen, overtaking collisions make up an inordinately large portion of fatalities, even though they make up a relatively small portion of all collisions. This is easy to understand when you consider that such crashes are apt to involve higher speeds.
In the Cross-Fisher study, more than half of all fatalities were on roads with posted speed limits greater than 35 mph, even though less than 20 percent of all collisions occurred in that fast traffic (Cross, 1978, p. 40). A more recent study of fatal accidents in Victoria, Australia, closely matched these findings (Hoque, 1990, p. 4).
The United Kingdom Department of Transport has provided a more dramatic illustration of the difference speed makes. The department determined that when pedestrians are struck by cars traveling at 20 mph, only about five percent are killed and most injuries are slight, with 30 percent of the walkers left virtually unscathed. At 30 mph, though, 45 percent are killed and many seriously injured. Cars zipping along at 40 mph kill 85 percent of the pedestrians they strike (Bicycle Federation of America, 1993b).
Simply put, cars that are overtaking cyclists are more likely to be at full speed than, say, cars crossing and turning at intersections. The higher the speed the harder the impact, and the more damage done.
Here are some letters we have received about the 3-Foot-Passing bill: